The Black Horse Pike Regional School District Board of Education last month approved a capital project that will encompass a partnership with Camden County College to run a variety of programs on its campus in Gloucester Township.
The district is working with the college to renovate the third floor of the Wolverton Library, which is being partially leased by the Camden County Bureau of Veterans Affairs.
According to superintendent Brian Repici, the district’s plans show that approximately 2,000 square feet will be utilized for classroom space, while about 800 square feet will be used for office space and counseling.
Repici added there is plenty of additional space on the third floor that could potentially be leased in the future, if needed. The district currently has as much space as it anticipates needing.
Through the capital project, the district plans to run three programs at Camden County College.
For starters, the district will create the Center for Alternative Restorative Education (CARE) program to place an emphasis on comforting students beyond their academic needs. To achieve that, the district will dissolve its Twilight Alternative Program, currently operating at night at Highland Regional High School. Repici said the move will save the district approximately $185,000, which can then go toward its new program at the college.
The district also expects to essentially transfer the approximately $300,000 it spends per year on students out of district to home instruction, and toward the variety of ways the CARE program will operate.
“The CARE program really places an emphasis on educating our learners about what they can do beyond their academic needs,” Repici explained. “We want to ensure that we’re providing the building blocks for their social, emotional and behavioral success. It’s going to be therapeutic-based.”
The CARE program, the superintendent added, operates under two umbrellas, with programs in the morning and afternoon. One will focus on students who have trouble in the traditional school environment because of potential social or depression issues, while the other is for students who may need temporarily placement in a behavioral, therapeutic program.
“These might be students that have a pattern of disregard for the student code of conduct,” Repici noted. “It may be just the place for students that the expectations of a traditional day program might just not be the place for them. We hope to be able to better educate them at Camden County College through this program.”
In continued work with the Center for Family Guidance, Repici said campus efforts through the CARE program will seek to reduce anxiety and stress while also preparing students for college and careers.
The last program that will transition to Camden County College is one for students with special needs. Called the Job Transition II program, it is for students 18 to 21 years old.
“We’re educating them for the workplace, whether it’s Target, a school district, Walmart, maybe even Camden County College,” Repici said. “We train them in job and social skills, along with some of the academic skills that they’ll need in the workplace. It could be writing, it could be computational skills …
“It’s a variety of things and it’s a growing program.”
Repici specified that by itself, the special needs program with the Black Horse Pike Regional School District currently operates with approximately 40 students. But the district expects an increase of as many as 20 students within the next few years.
“We predict that in a few years we’ll have well over 60 students in this program,” he added. “So this was an opportunity to shift that program over there. One of the jobs we run through this program currently runs at Timber Creek High School, printing various things for events and school districts.
“All our equipment will go over to Camden County College and we won’t need to purchase anything new.”
Overall, the superintendent said the plethora of offerings through both the CARE program and the special needs program could be the first of its kind in South Jersey. As the program hopefully grows after its inception, Repici anticipates nearby school districts will want their students to participate in the Black Horse Pike Regional School District’s programs.
According to the district, renovations at the Wolverton Library are expected to be completed over the summer, with the programs in operation by fall.